Letter: Don’t like charters? Improve public schools

Date Published: 
December 15, 2018
Anthony Taylor
News Type: 

Recent entries from some readers claiming that charter schools are part of a nefarious plot to destroy public education in the United States seem somewhat far-fetched. The further claim that charters are a get-rich-quick scheme by large corporations who hold employees in Dickensian servitude also seems over the top.

Charter schools exist to fill a need in communities where traditional public schools do not. In the Merrimack Valley, these are the large urban areas of Haverhill and Lawrence whose districts are ranked 303 and 331 respectively out of 350 in the state (according to SchoolDigger.com).

The same website lists no fewer than nine charter schools among the top 100 school districts in Massachusetts, four of them in Lawrence.

When faced with such statistics, the ongoing assertion of opponents is that charters succeed because they "cherry-pick" the best students, an argument not borne out by the profiles of charter schools student populations.

Unable to refute the evidence of charter school successes, opponents of school choice fall back on the "drain" they cause to traditional school budgets. In fact, the lion's share of school funding goes toward bloated pension funds and top-heavy administrations, rather than the direct needs of students, and too much is never enough.

If the impassioned opponents of charter schools would really like to see them eradicated, their best bet would be to drastically improve the quality of state public schools in Lawrence and Haverhill.